10/05/2006 11:00PM

Prenuptial's strategy to relax


The inconsistent form that Prenuptial has shown in her four-race career is not necessarily her fault.

Prenuptial finished sixth after being squeezed by other horses in her debut May 24, but rebounded to win a maiden race at Hollywood Park on July 12. Nine days later, she finished sixth after racing near the front in the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar, but returned to pull a 27-1 upset in the Generous Portion Stakes on Aug. 30.

Trainer Ben Cecil said he is expecting a winning effort from Prenuptial in Sunday's $65,000 Cover Gal Stakes. He said Prenuptial will have to use come-from-behind tactics to have a chance in the Cover Gal, a seven-furlong race for statebreds.

"In the [CTBA Stakes], we sent her out of the gate and she didn't seem to like that," said Cecil. "I think she runs best when she makes one run. I think she needs to be grabbed and taken out of it."

Prenuptial rallied from last in a field of seven to win the Generous Portion by a head. The Cover Gal will be the longest race of her career and will determine the direction of her campaign for the rest of the year. A win or a close finish would give Cecil and owners David and Paula Mueller an excuse to try the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 28.

"I think the seven-eighths will be fine," Cecil said. "If she runs really well, we can get an idea if we should go to the Cal Cup."

Prenuptial faces a stronger field in the Cover Gal than she did at Del Mar.

The race has drawn Katispsublue, the runner-up in the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Park on Sept. 16; Good N Muddy, an attractive maiden winner at Fairplex on Sept. 8; and Mistical Plan, who set the pace in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 4 before fading from contention.

Ces't Mark, the winner of the CTBA Stakes, returns to racing one week after finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 30.

Marques wins first in a big way

Smart Hit's shocking win in Thursday's fifth race, in which he paid $215.40 to win, gave trainer Manny Marques his first winner since he became a private trainer last month for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds.

Smart Hit, a 3-year-old gelding, won a maiden claimer in his career debut.

"I didn't bet on it," Marques said. "I thought I would jinx it."

Marques, 38, a former assistant to Beau Greely and trainer Neil Drysdale, trained in France before moving to the United States in the 1990's. He is a native of Portugal.

Smart Hit's payoff was not a record for the Oak Tree meeting. Arcangues paid a record $269.20 when he won the 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Despite the $215.40 winner, there were two winning pick six tickets worth $51,150.

Two champs work for fall starts

Declan's Moon and Stevie Wonderboy, the champion 2-year-old males of 2004 and 2005, worked at Hollywood Park on Friday, preparing for starts later this fall.

Declan's Moon, 4, worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds. Trained by Ron Ellis, Declan's Moon has not started since finishing last in the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar in August.

Stevie Wonderboy, 3, worked three furlongs in 36.80 seconds, which equaled the fourth-fastest of 27 recorded works at the distance. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Stevie Wonderboy has not started since finishing second to Brother Derek in the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita in January. He missed the Triple Crown earlier this year because of an injury to his right front ankle.

Becrux and Sweet Return, the first- and fourth-place finishers in the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17, are being pointed to the $400,000 Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 24, their trainers said earlier this week.

Becrux was considered for Saturday's Shadwell Mile at Keeneland but was held out of that race to receive more time between races, trainer Neil Drysdale said. Becrux was not nominated to the Breeders' Cup as a yearling and is not considered a serious candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile by his owners, the Team Valor syndicate and Gary Barber.

More restrictive policy at Hollywood

The conditions of starter allowance races in Southern California will be more restrictive at the Hollywood Park fall meeting this year than at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Earlier this week, Hollywood Park officials announced that starter allowance races at Hollywood Park's fall meeting, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 18, will be limited to horses that have won their maidens for a claiming price of $40,000 or less and have not won two races. At Oak Tree, starter allowances are open to horses that have started for a claiming price of $40,000 and have not won two races. That means maiden special weight winners are eligible for the Oak Tree races as long as they have started for $40,000 or less, which makes those races more competitive than the Hollywood races.

Santa Anita director of racing Mike Harlow said the less restrictive conditions are an experiment and will be evaluated at the end of the meeting. He said no decisions have been made on what conditions will be offered in starter allowance races during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

"The races definitely have a different complexion," Harlow said. "Horses that wouldn't have been eligible have made those races tougher."

In announcing Hollywood Park's policy, racing secretary Martin Panza said, "It doesn't seem fair to break your maiden for $25,000, $32,000, or $40,000 and suddenly find yourself facing maiden allowance winners."

* A memorial service will be held Tuesday for Jason Eilbeck, an exercise rider for Drysdale who was found dead in his home in late September. Eilbeck, a native of Ormskirk, England, was 34.

The memorial service begins at noon at Church of the Angels, 1100 Ave. 64, Pasadena. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Winner's Foundation has been recommended. The Winner's Foundation aids people in racing with substance abuse problems.